When working on a renovation or architectural project of any size, the strength, durability, and reputation of the materials applied are not to be overlooked. The thousands of years of success exhibited with the use of Porphyry paving present a clear picture of how powerful and aesthetically pleasing products can create a high economic value, return on investment, and return on perception. When examining the prosperity and impact of an architectural project and the materials used, it is helpful to lay out the factual outcomes. A great example of this is a recent report detailing the economic value added to Chicago with the construction of Millennium Park.

This report is based on the book called Urban Design and the Bottom Line: Optimizing the Return on Perception. It was published by ULI and authored by Dennis Jerke and incorporates the methodology applied in the Master of Science in Land Development program at Texas A&M University. The results are based on thorough research, credible sources, data analysis, and conclusions for the four categories of quadruple net value (social/cultural, economic, environmental, and sensory). The two Texas A&M University graduate students in the Land Development Program and two students from the Department of Real Estate at DePaul University have examined the quadruple net value of Millennium Park within a short eight-week time frame.

Millennium Park is a prime example of real estate value creation through proper conceptualization, design, delivery, and management. Mayor Daley, Ed Uhlir, John Bryan, and the rest of the Millennium Park team spent countless hours recruiting artists and designers, raising interest, and soliciting donations to produce an inviting public space that serves as the cultural center of Chicago. Millennium Park is now an internationally recognized symbol of the city on a site that could have easily become a parking garage. The research demonstrates that the return on investment and return on perception of Millennium Park have impacted the City of Chicago with significant quadruple net returns. These returns are broken down into categories and summarized as follows:

Economic Value and Return

The economic downturn in 2008 plus the historic landmark designation of Michigan Avenue buildings adjacent to the park have created recent property tax assessment challenges for the park and its nearby properties. Despite these circumstances, it is clear that Millennium Park has generated the following economic impact on the City of Chicago: 

  • $490M in total park construction
  • $ 2.45B in new construction near the park
  • 70,070 direct, indirect, and induced jobs created by new construction in the area
  • a 57% increase in new residential units near the park (3,587 units since 2005)
  • 29% premium on park units sold with views of the park
  • five million annual visitors which generate $1.29B in tourism dollars
  • $5.9M in annual operations costs that feed the local economy
  • 2,126 new underground parking spaces at Millennium Park
  • an 11% increase in hotel rooms (751 rooms) near the park
  • $173.5M donated by 115 founders to specific projects within the park
  • 11 Fortune 500 companies that donated to the park

Return on Perception

The subjective value of the park can’t be calculated, but the added value from the following items illustrates a greater return on perception: 

  • a world-class design that has added value to the brand and image of Chicago
  • international visitation as an indicator of the park’s global reputation
  • highly-valued building frontage on the park 
  • an over $100 per square foot increase in value for residential units that have views of the park
  • the Millennium Park brand provides additional value to over 19 businesses
  • the park view from Michigan Avenue restaurants has stimulated the development of outdoor patios
  • generally, rental rates for retail space near the park has gone up
  • the brand value of Millennium Park has strengthened Chicago’s reputation as a tourist destination
  • an increasing number of suburban residents visit downtown Chicago to enjoy Millennium Park activities
  • Chicago’s reputation as a world-class art destination has been enhanced by the permanent and rotating art and architecture at the park

Frank Gehry’s design of the pavilion and the bridge to Grant Park was a major factor in elevating the park to its current international status. Globally-renown designers were interested in being a part of a project that Gehry was involved in. The world-class art and architecture created by these designers stimulate the senses to levels not experienced in most other parks, which has helped lead to high real estate value creation. Though difficult to measure, the impact of the design on the sight, sound, smell, feel, and taste of the park is reflected in the extensive visitation, worldwide recognition as a destination, economic stimulus, and all-embracing positive influence on the citizens of Chicago.

Porphyry’s composition determines its high compression strength, resistance to stains, slip resistance, and high freeze/thaw ratings. The stone is the most popular paver in Europe and is favored for its flexibility in design, beauty, durability, and low maintenance requirements. ADA Compliant Porphyry pavers are also adaptable to a permeable paving set. The stone is by far one of the most durable pavers in the world and has thousands of years of history to prove it. These beautiful materials are available from Milestone Imports, a business that strongly supports the creativity of architects, planners, and designers. Porphyry offers surfaces of various finishes and mixed colorings, tending towards tones of grey, gold, violet, and red, depending on where it is extracted. Check out the wide range of Porphyry products that are available in North America from Milestone Imports today.  –  www.milestoneimports.com

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